- Southwest Middle School
A way for teacher assistants to become teachers
New program provides a way for teacher assistants to become teachers
A new professional development program for Gaston County Schools will give teacher assistants an opportunity to advance to the head of the class.
The “Teacher Assistants to Teachers” program is being offered through the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy. Teacher assistants who aspire to become elementary classroom teachers can do so through a partnership with Gaston College, Belmont Abbey College, and Gardner-Webb University.
“Because of the ongoing commitment from Gaston College, Belmont Abbey, and Gardner-Webb to provide outstanding educational opportunities in our community, we are able to offer a quality professional growth opportunity for our teacher assistants,” stated Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker. “We know that our teacher assistants are among the hardest-working people in public education, and we also know they have the ability, skills, and mindset to step into the important role of being a teacher.”
Dr. Booker continued, “This new program gives our teacher assistants an opportunity to meet the degree requirements necessary to transition from being a teacher assistant to a classroom teacher, and it is being offered to them free-of-charge.”
Forty teacher assistants, who currently work for Gaston County Schools, will be selected through an application and interview process. Click here for the application. The deadline to apply is April 14. Interviews will be conducted after spring break, and the teacher assistants chosen for the program will begin classes this summer.
Teacher assistants who want to learn more about the program are invited to attend an information session on Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00 p.m. at the Linda Rader Staff Development Center, 240 Eighth Avenue, Cramerton. Click here to RSVP for the information session. Attending the session is optional.
“For years, school districts have faced the challenge of having enough classroom teachers; this program helps to fill the void and allows us to grow our own,” explained Booker. “We take great pride in our employees, and we want them to have opportunities to thrive in the education profession. We know a program like this one fulfills our vision of inspiring success and a lifetime of learning, and we are very pleased to be able to offer it.”
The individuals chosen for the program should be able to complete their bachelor’s degree in about two years, which means by the start of the 2024-2025 school year, they will be ready to transition from teacher assistant to elementary school classroom teacher, according to Booker.
Depending on how much college credit the teacher assistants already have, they will be able to complete an associate degree through Gaston College and then move on to a bachelor’s degree program at Belmont Abbey or Gardner-Webb. If the teacher assistants already have an associate degree or enough credit hours equivalent to a two-year degree, they can begin coursework at Belmont Abbey (in person) or Gardner-Webb (online).
It is estimated that completion of the degree program could cost as much as $20,000 per person. However, Gaston County Schools is working with its three partners in education to cover expenses for tuition, books, and materials. Sometimes, the cost hinders a person’s ability to earn a teaching degree, and that is why eliminating the financial barrier is important, says Booker.
Employees who are interested in the “Teacher Assistants to Teachers” program should complete the application by April 14 and return required transcripts to Celeste Sadler at the Linda Rader Staff Development Center. Anyone with questions about the program should contact Dr. Melissa Balknight, (704) 861-2673.
The “Teacher Assistants to Teachers” program is the second professional leadership opportunity launched by Gaston County Schools this school year.
Last fall, the district began a program for teachers to become education leaders beyond the classroom. The program, which is also offered through the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy in partnership with Gardner-Webb University, involves 14 teachers who are working toward a master’s degree in school administration. Once they complete the degree requirements, the teachers will be ready to take on school leadership roles such as assistant principal, dean of students, curriculum/academic facilitator, and lead/content teacher. Click here to read more about the program.
Click here to complete the “Teacher Assistants to Teachers” program application.
Click here to RSVP for the information session on April 5.
Click here for an information sheet from Gardner-Webb University.